By Cpl. Anna Albrecht, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit
U.S. Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Maritime Raid Force participated in sustainment training aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii and Bellows Air Force Station, Hawaii, May 8-20, 2015.
PACIFIC OCEAN - -- This training was the last opportunity for Marines to train on land before deploying to the 5th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility. The training included marksmanship, diving, helocasting, and small unit leadership.
The first two days were spent on a life-fire range. There, they qualified with their rifles and pistols, ran buddy rushes, fired from unknown distances and on sniper ranges, and practiced proper house clearing techniques. This gave them the opportunity to focus on the basics of marksmanship and tactics. The following training days consisted of fast-roping, helocasting, operating and broaching combat rubber raiding craft, and diving.
“For us to be effective and stay up to date on our qualifications, we need a lot of time behind our weapons and also doing the high-risk insert capability training,” said Cpl. Jake Warden, a member of the MRF. “If we do not sustain those skills and qualifications, a lot of guys can get hurt because of the high intensity things that we do.”
Practicing insert capabilities by CRRC and helocasting is essential to the MRF’s mission.
“That is ultimately what we’re called to do as the MRF,” said Lance Cpl. Nathan Kraus, a member of the MRF. “We need to be proficient at inserting with every amphibious capability we have and make sure we’re up to date with all of our capabilities so we can be proficient in anything we’re called to do.”
Together, the 15th MEU’s Force Reconnaissance Detachment and a security element with enablers provided by other elements throughout the MEU make up the MRF. The Force Reconnaissance Detachment also took this time to familiarize the security element on the basic fundamentals of CRRC and helocast insertion.
“We did a lot of training with CRRCs and taught the security element how to work and broach them in case they tip over,” Kraus said. “We try to teach them everything we know to better the whole MRF.”
“When the security element comes out to support our missions, say they’re going to be doing a CRRC raid, they’re going to need to know how to start up those engines and what their responsibilities are on the boat,” Warden said. “Just in case we come up to the shore and one guy gets taken down, they can fill in that spot and be efficient in that position.”
The experience in Hawaii built a relationship and confidence between each of the Marines. They also ran through a leadership reaction course to ensure the Marines can effectively work together and solve problems as a team.
At the LRC, the Marines were taken out of their usual teams and put into four to five-man teams comprised of both reconnaissance and security element Marines. They were given different tasks to complete with limited time and equipment.
“This makes sure everyone can work as a leader and everyone can work with a team,” Warden said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s your team or a team that you end up getting attached to. You can become a leader, use critical thinking, and be able to come up with solutions to a problem.”
The sustainment training in Hawaii gave the Marines a break from the high intensity environment they have been working in for the past year working up to the MEU, and a chance to slow down and get back to the basics.
“Having a warm, calm environment to work in, solve problems, sit down, and talk through certain situations and [standard operating procedures] is definitely beneficial to us,” Warden said. “We had time to refine everything that we’ve been doing and training up to so far and were able to perfect those small, minute details such as digging our corners. We can go slow, repeat when necessary and take our time.”
After wrapping up their training in Hawaii, the Marines joined the rest of the 15th MEU aboard the Essex Amphibious Ready Group’s ships to continue on the transit through the Pacific. As they sail towards 5th and 7th Fleet, they say they feel prepared to take on any task sent down from higher.